To improve patient care and outcomes, leading dermatologists from the Cutis and Dermatology News Editorial Boards answered 5 questions on monitoring acne patients on oral therapy. Here’s what we found.
Do you check potassium levels for patients taking spironolactone for acne?
Half of dermatologists surveyed never check potassium levels for patients taking spironolactone for acne. For those who do check levels, 8% do it at baseline only, 8% at baseline and every 6 months, 23% at baseline and yearly, and 13% at baseline and for dosing changes.
Provided by Shari R. Lipner, MD, PhD (New York, New York)
Although some dermatologists are still checking for potassium levels in patients taking spironolactone for acne, there is a clear trend toward foregoing laboratory monitoring. This change was likely spurred by a retrospective study of healthy young women taking spironolactone for acne that found a hyperkalemia rate of 0.72%, which is practically equivalent to the 0.76% baseline rate of hyperkalemia in this age group. Furthermore, since repeat testing in 6 of 13 patients showed normal values, the original potassium measurements may have been erroneous. Based on this study, routine potassium monitoring is likely unnecessary for healthy young women taking spironolactone for acne (Plovanich et al). In another retrospective study of women aged 18 to 65 years taking spironolactone for acne, women aged 46 to 65 years had a significantly higher rate of hyperkalemia with spironolactone compared with women aged 18 to 45 years (2/12 women [16.7%] vs 1/112 women [<1%]; P=.0245). Based on this study, potassium monitoring may be indicated for women older than 45 years taking spironolactone for acne (Thiede et al).
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